What is normal?

Now, I know this is a little off-topic, but as you may know, research methods and statistics is a really important part of the MAPP program. If you´ve ever had classes in statistics, you´ll surely have heard of the Normal/Gaussian distribution. It was named after German mathematician Carl-Friedrich Gauss. You can see the guy and the distribution on the ’10 Deutsche Mark Schein’ – which unfortunately is not in use any more since the advent of the EURO.

The nice thing about the normal distribution is: it displays what´s normal. That´s how it has gotten its name. Basically, it shows that most things and people are ‘somewhere in the middle’ pertaining to most properties. That´s why the cusp of the curve in the middle. So most people are of average height, intelligence, beauty… you name it. The Brad Pitts and Stephen Hawkings of this world are the outliers. They do exist, but they are much scarcer than the John and Jane Does. Isn´t that reassuring? 🙂


If you would like to see the Gaussian function (and the underlying probability theory) in action, just have a look at this amazing Youtube video:



Maybe this post isn´t that off-topic after all. Below, you can see a chart taken from a presentation by Charlie Scudamore. It explains the overarching goal of Positive Psychology in terms of the Gaussian distribution. Basically, we´d like to give the whole human population a little nudge. We´d like everybody to be move a little bit into the direction of flourishing, shifting the mean of the distribution just a little to the right. Now who says statistics is just a waste of time…?!

The Goal of Positive Psychology

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